Jorge Martin was on another level in a superb sprint race victory here at the Sachsenring. Pecco Bagnaia and Jack Miller rounding off the top three in 2nd and 3rd as the Martinator marched on in his 2023 title challenge.
The crowd were witness to a fantastic battle in the early stages between the front 3 riders and a great fight for 4th place which was taken, in the end, by Luca Marini. More disappointment for both Yamaha and Aprilia with only Aleix Espargaro managing to finish in the top 10.
AS IT HAPPENED
Jack Miller, after a great start, lead into turn 1 on the first lap only for Pecco Bagnaia to come back past Miller into turn 2.
At the end of lap 1, Bagnaia ran too hot into turn 1 as Miller moved back past into 1st and created a bit of a gap at the front. Jorge Martin wasup 3 places in the race by the start of lap 2.
As the front three were battling, it was Brad Binder setting the fastest lap of the race at the end of lap 2 with Marc Marquez running wide. Marquez is constantly on the limit with his Honda this weekend, which has resulted in a lot of crashes so far. Halfway through lap 3, Bagnaia made his way back to the front down the hill of turn 11, back past Miller, only for the lead to quickly switch back to Miller down into turn 1 at the start of lap 4. A fantastic battle between last year’s teammates.
The overtake and key moment of the race has to go to the Martinator, Jorge Martin, as he blasted up the inside of both Bagnaia and Miller into the lead. An outstanding move from Martin!
On lap 6, Martin set the fastest lap of the sprint whilst building a gap to Bagnaia in the chasing group of 4 behind. Martin was pushing the gap above 1 second for the first time and trying to stretch out a lead at the front. Martin posted fastest lap after fastest lap and was on another level here at the Sachsenring.
It was a story of Ducati vs KTM in the top 5 with Yamaha nowhere, down in 14th and 15th. Aprilia were also outside of the top ten. With 9 laps to go in the sprint race, Martin is now 1.327s ahead of Bagnaia in second and despite Bagnaia doing his best lap of the race, he’s still unable to respond to the blistering pace of Martin out at the front.
Starting lap 10 of 15, Martin was well ahead now with a gap of 1.696s to Bagnaia in 2nd. Bagnaia was also half a second clear of Miller in 3rd.
Coming into the final phase of the sprint race, the top 3 seemed to have the positions locked in. The battle for 4th intensified with Binder battling with Marini. Binder was unable to outbreak the VR46 team rider into turn 1 as the battle for 4th place continued with 4 laps to go.
At the start of lap 14 and Binder was trying all he can to get by Marin, again into turn 1, however he was unable to make the move stick. Marini was holding station in 4th and showing superb defensive skills and was shutting the door whenever he could on Binder.
On the last lap of the sprint, Zarco managed to barge his way by Binder to take 5th but this then forced an investigation by the stewards. In the end, Marini managed to hold off everyone to take a great 4th place.
Martin crossed the line +2.468s clear of Bagnaia in 2nd and is now just 21 points shy of Bagnaia’s lead in the championship. Martin is mounting a serious challenge to our reigning champion and proved to be just too quick today for Bagnaia and Miller. Miller said, post race, that there is still more to come from the KTM rider and we’re all set for a great race tomorrow.
As we are becoming accustomed to in MotoGP this season, the sprint race was full of drama from start to finish, with multiple overtakes and lots of drama happening on every lap.
After taking a stunning pole position earlier in the day, and smashing the qualifying lap record, Pecco Bagnaia has taken a dominant win in the Mugello sprint race.
He was joined on the podium by fellow Italian Marco Bezzecchi and Jorge Martin, who fought hard to keep his teammate at bay.
It was a difficult race for Alex Marquez who, after putting in a brilliant qualifying lap and starting the race in 3rd, sadly crash at the first corner, bringing his day to a sudden and unexpected halt.
Similarly, Jack Miller and Marc Marquez will have been disappointed to finish in 6th and 7th respectively after enjoying some dramatic battles in the podium places at the early stages of the race.
We have two returning riders this weekend – Aleix Espargaro is back from a bicycle accident and finished in 8th, whilst Enea Bastianini, who has returned from injuries sustained earlier in the season, ended the day in 9th.
As It Happened
As the lights went out, the rain began to fall – however, it was only light rain which didn’t affect the grip on the tarmac.
Off the line, Bagnaia managed to hold on to the lead despite Marc Marquez appearing alongside him into turn 1. Bagnaia was able to strategically place his Ducati to block this attack and keep the lead. In doing this, he also hampered Jack Miller’s approach as he left the Aussie nowhere to go.
Further back, we had Johann Zarco flying off the line but he sadly goes wide in turn 1, which hampers his amazing start slightly.
In the middle of turn 1 of the first lap, Alex Marquez sadly found himself in the kitty litter after Brad Binder bumped into him on the inside. After reviewing the incident, Binder was deemed to be at fault and was later handed a long lap penalty. That did nothing to soothe Alex Marquez though, who was forced to watch the rest of the sprint race from the garage.
As the grid crosses the line to start lap 2, Jorge Martin stole 2nd from Marquez. He was clearly the real winner at the start, working his way up from 6th. Miller was also on the climb and, with the drama hotting up, Marquez found himself squeezed in to the middle of a Miller-Marini sandwich, which pushed him down the order and promoted Miller to 3rd.
There were aggressive moves happening up and down the field, including the front where Martin stole the lead from Bagnaia on lap 2.
It was at this point that Miguel Oliveira, the wet weather specialist who was running down in 13th, laid down the fast lap of the race so far proving his mastery of these tricky and changeable conditions.
With 4 of 11 laps completed, Bagnaia made his way back into the lead with Martin settling for 2nd. Just behind them were the two Mooney VR46 riders, Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini, who were putting in a brilliant performance for a race where their boss, Valentino Rossi, was watching from the garage.
By lap 6, the action started to settle down and there were a few gaps forming throughout the grid. Bezzecchi was now the rider setting fastest laps, with a lap so fast that is smashed the previous race lap record by 0.3 seconds! Shortly after that, Binder clocked the fastest ever speed recorded at Mugello, as he topped out at 366km/h.
As the lap counter ticked down, and we reached the final stages of the race, we had Bagnaia leading, but being chased down by Bezzecchi in 2nd, and Martin in 3rd with his teammate, Johann Zarco in 4th and hot on his tail. It continued this way until the checkered flag fell, with neither Bezzecchi nor Zarco able to manufacture a move on their competitors.
Red Bull KTM
Monster Energy Yamaha
Red Bull KTM
Fabio Di Giannantonio
Monster Energy Yamaha
DNFs: Alex Rins (LCR Honda), Alex Marquez (Gresini)
George Russell has claimed his maiden F1 race win in Sao Paulo, winning the sprint race ahead of Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton. This means Russell will start tomorrow’s race from pole position.
George Russell fought hard to claim his maiden victory and win the sprint race in Brazil. It took three attempts but, on lap 15, he finally bested this year’s champion, Max Verstappen, to take the lead. Russell quickly pulled out a comfortable lead and left the pack to scrap for the remaining podium places.
Carlos Sainz, who started in 5th, ended the day with a 2nd place medal around his neck. Lewis Hamilton, having recently been granted honourary Brazilian citizenship, delighted fans as he claimed the final podium position.
Verstappen found himself in the lead on lap 3 when he passed pole-sitter, Kevin Magnussen, on the start-finish straight. However, as he tried to continue his clean sweep of sprint race wins this season, Verstappen struggled and eventually ended the race in 4th. Magnussen was eventually shuffled down to 8th to take the final championship point – a result he was still thrilled with.
It was a very frustrating day for Charles Leclerc, much like Friday’s qualifying. After a mistake by the team left him unable to qualify above 10th, he failed to make waves in the sprint race and eventually made it up to 6th. Just ahead of him, in 5th, was his nearest championship rival, Sergio Perez.
For tomorrow’s race, thanks to a grid penalty for Sainz, we will have a front-row lockout for Mercedes – their first in 2022. Verstappen and Perez will line up just behind them to start in 3rd and 4th respectively. Both Ferarri drivers will have a difficult day ahead, as Leclerc lines up in 5th with Sainz in 7th, after his penalty for an engine change. Having qualified in 11th, Alex Albon will have to start tomorrow’s race in last place after spinning out of the race on lap 13.
However, there could still be movement amongst the grid as we have a number of drivers under investigation. Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu, who finished in 3rd, 11th and 13th respectively, are being investigated for a start procedure infringement. This is suspected to be an issue with their position within their grid boxes. Pierre Gasly, who finished in 10th, is under investigation for driving too slowly on his way to the grid. Both Alpine drivers are also under investigation for a mid-race clash, adding further woes to their dramatic day.
The 24-lap race was packed with action from start to finish, providing a much-needed boost to the debated sprint race format. In 2023, we will have 6 sprint races with the format still yet to be decided. It is clear that today’s showing will have helped its cause.
AS IT HAPPENED
As he made his way around the track for the formation lap, pole-sitter Magnussen was told by his team to “have fun”, and that’s certainly what he did. The Haas driver enjoyed a brilliant start and quickly pulled a nice lead ahead of the rest of the grid, who quickly started to battle hard. Verstappen, starting in 2nd, seemed to get swallowed by those around him but eventually came out on top to retain 2nd place.
One of the toughest battles on the opening lap was between Alpine teammates, Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso. As Alonso attempted a move for 6th place, he was pushed wide and onto the kerb. As he tried to maintain control of the car, he twitched and made contact with the side of Ocon’s car. Alonso emerged unscathed whilst Ocon was left with a hole in his sidepod. The following lap saw Alonso again try a move for 6th. This time, Ocon made a very late defensive move and Alonso clipped his rear tire and broke his front wing.
Forced to pit for a new front wing, Alonso dropped to the back of the grid and his race was effectively over. As Alpine continue its fierce championship battle with McLaren, this lack of points will be a blow for the French team.
As the pack settled into their rhythm, it was Lance Stroll and Mick Schumacher who enjoyed the best starts – Stroll gaining 3 places and moving up to 12th, with Schumacher gaining 4 places and moving up to 16th.
It seemed overtakes were happening up and down the grid, with Hamilton taking 5th from Lando Norris and Magnussen quickly dropping from 1st to 4th – he was first passed by Verstappen, then Russell and Sainz who sat in the top three, in that order, for the early stages of the race.
By lap 7, it felt like things were settling down a little, but Russell was still within DRS range of Verstappen and looking hungry for the win.
On lap 9, it was the turn of the Aston Martin teammates to start their battle as they fought for 11th. At the pitlane exit, Lance Stroll pushed Sebastian Vettel off the track and onto the grass, with an excessively aggressive move. Taking to the radio, Vettel’s response was a simple “OK”, but this move was quickly noted by the stewards and Stroll was awarded a 10-second penalty for a “dangerous manoeuvre”.
As the pair started the next lap, lap 10 of 24, Vettel finally made his way past his teammate on the start-finish straight, to claim 11th place.
It was at the halfway point of the race that Russell started to make himself known to Verstappen. He first attempted a move around the outside of turn 1 but struggled to get ahead. The same move on lap 13 also failed to give him the lead but he continued to battle for the rest of the lap.
At this point, Verstappen took to the radio to tell his team that he has hit some debris – this is likely to have come from Alonso’s broken front wing and could have caused damage to the champion’s car. Shortly after this message, on lap 15, he lost the lead to Russell who quickly pulled a gap of 2 seconds.
The previous time penalty didn’t seem to deter Stroll and he was soon back in action, this time with Haas driver Schumacher as the pair fought for 12th. An incredibly late and defensive move from Stroll, which almost caused Schumacher to drive into the back of him, was also noted by the stewards. At the time when the race ended, no decision had yet come from race direction on this incident.
In the dying laps of the race, with Russell now 2 seconds clear of the pack, a huge scrap started between Verstappen, Sainz and Hamilton. It became clear that Verstappen was either struggling on the medium tires or had been significantly affected by the previous debris that he hit – he was visibly struggling to keep control of the Red Bull, which was twitching as he tried to defend 2nd place.
As Sainz made his move and overtook Verstappen for 2nd, there was contact between the pair. Adding to the Dutchman’s woes, his front wing end plate flew off as a result of the contact. It was then just a matter of corners until he lost 3rd to Hamilton.
On lap 21, with just 3 laps remaining, Sainz jumped on the radio to inform his team that he was “running out of tires”. This prompted Mercedes to encourage Hamilton to “keep the pressure on” as he kept Sainz in view. Despite keeping with DRS range, Hamilton simply couldn’t get close enough to make a move for 2nd.
Meanwhile, further down the grid, Norris took 7th place from pole-sitter Magnussen, who was now in the final points position in 8th.
With 2 laps remaining, Perez was quickly catching his teammate in 4th and he asked his engineers if he would be given the position – a fair question as his battle with Charles Leclerc for 2nd in the championship heats up. However, the chequered flag came too soon for the Mexican and he was forced to settle for 5th.
As the chequered flag fell, it was Russell who crossed the line in a comfortable 1st place, nearly 4 seconds ahead of his nearest rival.
The action wasn’t just reserved for on the track, though, as Esteban Ocon’s Alpine caught fire in parc ferme. This was the result of contact with his teammate in the race and resulted in the post-race interviews quickly moving to the grid, rather than the pitlane.